Monday, March 6, 2017

My grandson and his bugulers

My 8 year old grandson is afraid of "bugulers". No, I didn't spell it wrong, that is how he says burglars. He is afraid to go in other rooms in his own home with people present. I think it is all about attention but that has nothing to do with this post. 

Interestingly, the Today Show, this morning, interviewed a "buguler" from prison. I guess that he wasn't a very good "buguler". From watching that interview and relating it to my own experience, inspecting thousands of homes, allow me to provide you some pertinent information on keeping you home safe from "bugulers". 

It does not happen at night: Most children (like my grandson) are concerned about "bugulers" at night. Interestingly, most burglaries of homes happen during the day not at night. Why? No one is present in the home or in most of the neighborhood. When I inspect homes most neighborhoods are like ghost towns. The more expensive the homes the less folk are around. I could load a truck and no one would notice. The safest neighborhoods, from this perspective, are the low income neighborhoods where folk are everywhere because they aren't working. Understand that I am a HUD REAC inspector and have inspected thousands of rental assisted housing units. Don't consider this derogatory, it is a simple fact. You will see why I bring this up later. Also, everyone is in everyone else's business looking out their windows or sitting on their porch. There is also less to steal.

They do not break in: We think that "bugulers" access homes by breaking in. This is not the case. They usually simply walk in through unlocked doors or windows. If yours aren't unlocked they simply move to the next home which is. I can attest to that. A huge percentage of homes I inspect have unlocked doors somewhere. An even larger number, in fact close to 100%, have one or many more unlocked windows. I lock every window and door as I operate them and move through the house. When I leave the home is secured. 

They are reading the signs of vacancy: No cars present, lights off, papers in the yard, mail in the mailbox, packages on the porch, no noise, closed windows and doors. If they think the home is occupied they move to one which doesn't appear occupied. 

Alarm systems and cameras are not deterrents they are invitations: An alarm system or camera says that you have something worth stealing. They do not stop anyone from stealing it. A "buguler" is only in your home for a few minutes. It could be as much as 20 minutes or longer (I speak from personal experience) before police will arrive after the alarm sounds. The "buguler" will be long gone. If a "buguler" wears a mask or evades the few cameras you may have what do they accomplish? 

Most dogs don't work: I go in homes often with dogs present. Over two decades of entering homes with dogs present I have only experienced one dog which was a problem and that dog had blatant emotional problems. I simply kept something between me and the dog and preceded with my inspection. All I do is act like I belong and not act like I fear the dog. They will be waging their tails, licking my hand following me around the home. Works every time. 

A keyed lock on the inside of glass doors does not work: You can't even imagine how many double keyed dead bolt locks I encounter and write up as a hazard. Can't find the key in a fire and you and your family may not survive. Your home is only as secure as the nearest rock and your windows and many doors are large enough to walk through without a key when broken out. 

After shaking up your thoughts of security in your home what does work.

Make your home appear occupied: Leave some lights and the TV on, get the paper, mail and packages up quick.  

Lock all windows and doors: Most "bugulers" don't want to break out glass because it's noisy, requires too much effort and they may be injured. Most of the time they will simply move to the next home which is unlocked. Most "bugulers" are all about simplicity and have no interest in anything which is difficult or requires time. 

Neighborhood Watch Works: Make friends, especially ones which are home during the day. Ask them to keep an eye on your home and walk out and say something, call the police and you if anything does not appear right. Chances are they will be watching anyway, encourage them to take action. Hence my comment above about low income neighborhoods. 

Never allow a Realtor to put a combination key box on your home: Most folk, who deal with these boxes, can get into the box without knowing the code. I do it often. Realtors use codes which are simple for them to recall like down the side, four corners or that relate to them. Their year of birth, their initials. You would be shocked how many of these key boxes are still set to the manufactures setting. It goes on and on and someone familiar and smart can guess it. Demand an electronic key box or find another Realtor who will provide one. These boxes are only accessible by approved folk and it records their entry. They are built like Fort Knox and you better have a very big sledge hammer to get in one. It's going to be noisy and take time. 

Being safe in your home isn't difficult or expensive it is all about being careful. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

What a Realtor Thinks

Posted on Google: "Chris is the best! He is very professional and very thorough throughout the entire inspection. He makes sure that the client is informed and will answer any questions! He is prompt with his reports and scheduling is very easy to do!" (Google "Chris D Hilton" to see the real post)

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Awesome Builder Discount

Check out my 100% Awesome Builder Discount. 

Book your newly constructed home inspection at this link. If your builder meets my Awesome Builder Discount Standards your home inspection (not including the radon test) is FREE. If you have paid in advance your money will be refunded. 

Feel free to provide my Builder Challenge to your builder.

Builder Challenge: Think you are an Awesome Builder? Feeling emboldened and confidant? I am eating the cost of your buyer's inspection if I find you to be Awesome. What will you agree to do if you are found not to be? Encourage your buyer to book their home inspection at this link and advise them that if you fail the Awesome Builder Discount Standards you will refund them the cost of their home inspection. Are you up to the challenge? (Your builder is not required to meet the challenge for you to be eligible for the discount. Few, if any, will be willing to do this even if they think they are awesome.)

Awesome Builder Discount Standards:
  1. The home must be move in ready without any additional involvement from the builder other than possibly addressing minor cosmetic issues. 
  2. The home must be newly constructed (never occupied) and must have a certificate of occupancy issued by the local code enforcement authority. A copy of the certificate must be clearly posted on site or provided to the home inspector. 
  3. Permanent power, gas, water must be connected functional and there must be adequate fuel in tanks to operate fueled equipment.
  4. All appliances and equipment must be installed, clean and functional. 
  5. If there have been site modifications to engineered structural components a copy of the sealed engineering design must be posted near the work or be provided to the home inspector at or before the inspection. 
  6. All work on the home must be complete. Complete is defined as there is no needed for anyone to return to do anything for any reason. 
  7. The home interior and exterior must be clean. Clean is defined as there is nothing which is dirty or will get you dirty. Yes, that includes the top of wall cabinets, projections, door casings, inside of windows when opened and inside of cabinets. Attics and crawl spaces must be void of all debris. 
  8. All light fixtures must have appropriate, matching, properly functioning light bulbs. 
  9. There must be grass at minimum coming up in the yard and landscaping must be complete through out the yard including properly blended in to adjacent properties or wooded areas. 
  10. On completion of the home inspectors inspection there can be no issues found and recorded in the report needing attention by the builder, subcontractors, suppliers or code enforcement officials. There can be no recommendations on the home inspectors report other than possible improvement recommendations. 
Following succeeding in the Awesome Builder Discount Challenge a certificate of success will be issued to the builder.  A post will be made on this blog congratulating the Awesome Builder including a photo of the house, a photo of the builder and buyer if desired. Information will be included about the builder and a link to the builders website. A post will be made on this home inspectors business and personal FaceBook pages announcing that this builder met the Awesome Builder Challenge linking back to the blog posting. If desired, this home inspector will provide a quote which can be used by the Awesome Builder about this achievement.

A little confused about your builder? Not of the opinion that he or she will qualify you for the Awesome Builder Discount? Much more reason to click on the link above! Why not allow an expert to make that call, provide you education about the condition of your new home and issues which may be of concern and in need of attention. Click Here to learn more about me. Click Here to learn more about a home inspection. 

In two decades inspecting thousands of homes and searching for awesome builders I have experienced a few which came close but only one home which would have qualified for this Awesome Builder Discount.  Nothing will give me greater pleasure than to discover more and to provide you with this 100% discount. Good Luck!

Changing the landscape of home inspections in the Triad one inspection at a time.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Home Binder

Beginning in January 2017

Free with every home inspection

HomeBinder allows you to organize and save all related home information in a convenient online application.  From storing paint colors to getting maintenance reminders, HomeBinder will help get your home ownership off to a great start.  It will ensure you have all the details you need in the future right at your fingertips.  Best of all, we’ll get it setup for you to minimize the effort to begin managing your greatest asset.  Although you’ll probably not think about selling for some time, when you do, your HomeBinder will help with buyers, your accountant and the appraiser.  I will give you lifetime of ownership access (a $120.00 value) to HomeBinder Homeowner Edition as part of your inspection.  You can learn more at

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Winston-Salem Home Inspector Cleared in Killing

After a thorough investigation, local authorities say a local Winston-Salem home inspector, initially the leading suspect for killing a real estate deal, has been cleared. The home inspector was dubbed “Deal Killer” by people close to the victim. The victim, per the listing agent, was in perfect condition and had been meticulously maintained by a single owner. Negotiations for the home went smoothly, the offer was strong, and the victim was healthy. All of this changed when the home inspector arrived.
Testimony from the buyers agent, a Realtor with No More Inspections Realty, suggested violent and unprovoked attacks against the victim from the moment he arrived to the moment he left.
“He came in and bludgeoned it to death” she said.
Based on multiple eye witness testimonies, investigators could put together the likely time table of events. The home inspector initially assaulted the exterior cladding of the home before storming inside and striking the HVAC and electrical systems, in that order. As of now, it appears the plumbing systems were spared from the aggression. Autopsy reports state that although multiple blows were inflicted, the home inspector finalized with the crawlspace which has been determined as the official cause of death.
Evidence against the home inspector however, was circumstantial. The autopsy in conjunction with forensic evidence, revealed that the victim’s conditions actually existed before the home inspector arrived. The victim was essentially DOA. Defense attorney for the home inspector described it as a “classic case of the person who finds the victim unfortunately becomes suspect number one.” Investigators still aren’t sure why no one was made aware of the victim’s ailments before the inspector arrived, and this is still an ongoing investigation. However, the home inspector has been cleared.
Story curtesy of Juan Jimenez 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

What a Realtor thinks

Posted August 25, 2016 on Angies List:

"I have used Chris numerous times. Always on time, very professional. Explains everything to you, does not mind you asking questions?

Monday, August 22, 2016

What a client thinks

Hi Chris,

It was a pleasure meeting you during the home inspection. We have reviewed your very thorough report. Wow that was a lot of information. We appreciate the level of detail. The report is very well organized and very easy to read. Great job!

Thank you.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

What a Realtor Thinks

Posted today by a Realtor as a comment to a FaceBook posting:

"My son has started looking (for a house to purchase), and I have already told him that I know who I want to use to inspect. The one I would trust MY BABY with, speaks volumes."

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

What a Realtor Thinks

Review on Yelp by real estate company owner Nathan Hepler actually brought tears to this old mans eyes:

"If you are in the business you will know that Inspectors have all different skill levels, not one on the planet will find every single flaw or make every single client happy every single time. Chris Hilton goes above all others in explaining what’s going on with the house that my clients are getting ready to purchase, has a website that I can see his schedule when I need him on a short notice. As far as knowledge goes I have dealt with over 10 home inspectors in the last 10 years on being the owner of Hepler Realty, nobody has more knowledge in my experience with home inspectors than Chris. This guy knows his stuff, and uses photos, some inspectors don't! And doesn't quote out work to your client for fixing (this is a contractors job). Bottom line my clients get what they need with a report that back up any need for repairs from the seller to make. Also I once called 3 inspectors to inspect my church roof, not one could do it within 2 weeks but Chris came out and walked the roof, and didnt even charge! That is an honest person with integrity, and earned mad respect from lots of people in the community!"

In realty Nathan treated me to a first class cheese burger and fries for walking that roof with him. I will do anything for a good meal. Click here to see the post on this  Blog. Any one else feel the urge to write a review good or bad you can do so by googling "Yelp Chris D Hilton"

Thanks Nathan

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Radon, Asbestos, Mold.…Now Can Hardwood Floors Kill Your Deal?

Guest posting by: Danny Gough Energy Solutions, Inc.

CBS’s 60 Minutes set off a firestorm of controversy in their March 1st telecast. Investigators found that Lumber Liquidators has been selling laminate flooring made in China, which contains high levels of formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen (cancer causing substance), frequently found in adhesives used to manufacture flooring, cabinets, insulation and other “pressed wood” products. Breathing elevated levels indoors can cause adverse health effects. While some individuals may have manageable reactions, children, senior adults and pregnant women are most at risk. Symptoms include watery eyes, burning nose and throat, coughing, wheezing, nausea and skin irritation. More information on formaldehyde risk can be found at the Center for Diseases and the EPA. 

The 60 Minutes segment reported that more than 150 boxes of laminate flooring was sent to three certified labs for a series of tests. Every sample of Chinese-made laminate flooring from Lumber Liquidators failed to meet California formaldehyde emissions standards. Many failed by a large margin. Some of the samples tested contained close to 20 times the amount of formaldehyde allowed by law. (Federal legislation signed into law on July 7, 2010, mirrors the California standard.) Problem is, this material has been installed in hundreds of thousands of homes around the country.

Lumber Liquidators stock has been hammered and they face consumer class-action suits filed in California and Massachusetts accusing them of harming customers who bought products laden with formaldehyde. Lozeau Drury LLP an environmental law firm behind the California case says, “if you've purchased laminate flooring from Lumber Liquidators in the past 4 years, you may have been exposed to high levels of formaldehyde”.

But many experts fear toxic flooring may not be limited to just Lumber Liquidators. Using hidden cameras, the 60 Minutes segment shows the manager of a Chinese manufacturing plant admitting to falsely labeling flooring as compliant with strict formaldehyde emissions standards, even though he knew the material did not. There is concern that this may be a habitual pattern.

Occupants in newer homes may be at greater risk for unhealthy concentrations. That’s because the attention to energy savings over the last 40 years has produced exceptionally airtight houses. Plus, with central heating and air, hardly anyone opens windows anymore. While saving energy is good, airtight homes are usually very poorly ventilated. Without fresh air, pollutants are trapped inside the home where they quickly accumulate to unsafe levels.

Are there things an agent can do to protect your client while protecting yourself?

Here are some tips that may help.

  1. It may be useful to know that studies have shown chemical emissions generally decrease as a material ages. Consequently, if a floor is 5-10 years old, there is less concern over formaldehyde emissions compared to newer material.
  2. Full disclosure is always the best policy. So if you suspect a problem, inform your client. Keep in mind that not all laminate flooring is defective and/or unhealthy. But, it is exceptionally wise to ask questions about products manufactured and imported from China.
  3. If you are the buyer's agent and you notice laminate flooring, ask the listing agent if the seller can provide documentation from the manufacturer. This information might include certificates of compliance or labels that demonstrate the material meets formaldehyde emission standards. Unfortunately, this isn’t foolproof because we now know that flooring products may have been falsely labeled.
    Three such endorsements are:
    The Healthy Building Network –
    GreenGuard –
    California Air Resources Board –
    Specifically, Carb 2 reflects compliance with California’s formaldehyde emission standards (i.e., CARB Phase 2)
  4. If you are the listing agent, and your seller has laminate flooring, be proactive and ask them where they bought it. Seek documentation and look for the same information as discussed above. It's better to know this than to get ambushed later in the negotiation process.
  5. If you are the listing agent and your client is going to be installing laminate flooring to improve marketability, explain the concern about formaldehyde emissions and how selecting the wrong material could adversely affect the sale of their property. Provide the same recommendations described above about reviewing documentation before purchasing flooring. A sensible course is to look for products that are “formaldehyde free”. Several manufacturers have substituted safer alternatives to formaldehyde such as glue made from soy. This can then become a benefit that might help sell the home quicker.
  6. Best practice to protect all parties is to conduct air quality testing. Testing for formaldehyde takes just a few hours and typically costs less than $300. Solving the mystery of what the client’s family will be breathing can reduce stress and worry for everyone involved. Even when test results show elevated levels of formaldehyde, it doesn’t necessarily mean the floor must be replaced. There are several strategies to handle the problem with minimal intrusion.

    For more information contact:
    Danny Gough Energy Solutions, Inc.
    (336) 463-2005

Thursday, February 12, 2015

What a Client Thinks

Check out this comment left today in the Mover Thank You Guest Book:

"Chris Hilton, Winston-Salem NC( ) did two inspections for us. His professional manner, his attention to detail on site and in printed report will benefit anyone who uses him as their inspector. The report on the first house made us realize the money pit it would become. The second confirmed that we were learning better what to look for and this house will serve us well. To truly benefit from such a huge financial investment call Chris Hilton."

Sunday, November 2, 2014

What a client thinks

Recent review left on Google Plus by a client moving here from Louisiana purchasing new construction: 
"Chris is the first home inspector I've hired who is truly knowledgeable about buildings. He is completely professional and exceptionally thorough. I feel that he approached my home inspection like his reputation depended on it. And because of his tough reputation, I didn't even have to ask the seller to address the issues. My real estate agent delivered the message to me with a laugh: the seller called her first with an offer to fix all the issues on the report. I could have gone with other inspectors who advertised lower fees, but I truly believe I came out ahead financially with all the seller agreed to and no hassles."